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Artificial Intelligence In Business: What’s Real and What’s Hype?

Companies around the world are increasingly looking to leverage artificial intelligence in business to create new sources of value.

For companies, this means new avenues to bring value to customers or to other businesses.

This is especially important for technology-related ones because it could bring massive ROI to their organizations.

The truth is that the “early adopters,” or the companies who invested in artificial intelligence (AI) when it was a budding technology, have seen impressive results.

But, with growth also comes hype.

That’s why many businesses that are still immature in their digital transformation try to benefit from AI, often losing money by choosing solutions their businesses don’t need.

Also, with hype come many misconceptions, and some of them look like they come straight from a sci-fi movie.

With that in mind, I decided to talk about artificial intelligence from a human-centric perspective.

I believe artificial intelligence could probably help your business, but that it’s not a one size fits all solution. Don’t fool yourself and don’t let yourself be fooled by the acronyms and the hype.

Let’s talk about how AI could help you and discuss if artificial intelligence is for you.

This Article Covers

    • What Artificial Intelligence Is and Is Not
    • How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Your Business
    • How To Prepare Your Business For Artificial Intelligence
  • How Can You Implement Artificial Intelligence Into Your Business

What is Exactly Artificial Intelligence

Simply put, artificial intelligence is intelligence demonstrated by machines.

The term is used when a machine mimics specific human cognitive functions such as learning and problem-solving.

Machines or software classified as possessing artificial intelligence include the following:

    • Speech-recognition
    • Autonomous-operation
    • Content delivery networks
  • Virtual and augmented reality

Does it mean that machines will take over?

Not yet. But we’ve gotten better at programming them to help us with tasks.

And that’s exactly the point of this article.

Machines have gotten better, but there are decisions machines can’t make.

But, only you know what’s better for your business.

With that in mind, today, I’ll guide you through the process of leveraging AI like only a human would.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Your Business

Let me start by saying that most of the applications of AI that improve business operations are pretty limited.

But don’t get me wrong, limited doesn’t mean unhelpful.

Artificial intelligence can deliver immense value to your company if used properly. And I’m not alone here. Gartner predicts that “by 2022, 25% of customer-facing employees and government workers will consult daily an AI virtual support agent for decision or process support.”

Think of tasks such as:

    • Day-to-day administration
    • Information retrieval
  • Customer Support

These are only three things AI could help you with.

But this graph explains it even better. Look below.

It’s important to remember that AI exists to help you.

Well, as more people engage in digital channels, AI-powered solutions are being implemented for handling customer requests. And they’re giving more than information, they’re enriching our understanding of our own businesses and work processes

The thing is that you will always need a human there to call the shots. AI, as I said, is helpful and can aid your decision-making processes, but can’t decide on its own what’s best for your business.

How To Prepare Your Business For Artificial Intelligence

Before embarking on an AI initiative, you need more education about what AI can really do for your business. Understanding artificial intelligence means identifying the needs of your company as well as the weaknesses artificial intelligence can address.

Artificial intelligence can impact your business, and you don’t need to be an expert to use AI-powered tools.

If you’re looking to start your AI-powered journey, these are a few pointers you need to take into account.

    • Build a team of knowledgeable employees
    • Determine the technology gaps AI can help you close
    • Create a learning environment in your company and teach your collaborators
  • Start with a minimal investment and scale up only if your business truly needs it.

Alright, now start by digitizing your business. If you’re serious about swimming in the waters of artificial intelligence, your company should have had its own digital transformation.

Increase your digital capabilities first before investing in AI, otherwise, you might end up wasting money and resources.

I have found that this 4-step path to AI adoption works well to see if AI is for you:

    • Step 1: Digitize your company
  • Step 2: Find relevant use cases where a company like yours benefited from AI
  • Step 3: Experiment with an AI-powered solution
  • Step 4: Get benefits and champion other AI technologies

How Can You Implement Artificial Intelligence Into Your Business

Again, let me say that AI is not the holy grail of business solutions.

Artificial intelligence is not a brain and can’t adapt to situations outside its programming.

Keep in mind that intelligent programs work far better as specialists rather than generalists.

That means that even in potent, AI-powered machines like smart cars, there is not such a thing as a central intelligence.

In fact, each function is controlled by a separate system working through a network. You still need the human intelligence to process that data and make decisions.

In other words, you need to integrate AI into your existing workflow.

And this is how you can do it.

In this case, this graph from Deloitte’s “Artificial Intelligence For the Real World” is extremely helpful to show you how implementing AI can help your business.

As you can see, the first two benefits are “enhancing the performance and optimizing internal business operations.”

Let’s focus on those two:

Implementing AI To Enhance Performance

The most common AI tool to enhance a company’s performance is the automation of digital and physical tasks.

Think of those typical back-office administrative and financial activities.

Using AI-powered, robotic process automation technologies, you can automate repetitive tasks that drain your workers with robots (code on a server) that acts like a human, consuming, entering, and transferring data.  

Things like:

    • Updating customer files with address changes or service additions
    • Reaching into multiple systems to update records and handle customer communications
  • “Reading” contracts and legal documents to find provisions using natural language processing

Those are only a few ways automation can help you and your business. There are plenty of solutions in the market that are specifically tailored to your industry and that you could make use of to enhance your processes.

Now, let’s take a look at the other way artificial intelligence can help your business.

Using AI To Optimize Internal Business Operations

One of the best applications of AI is in data science. You can use big data and algorithms to detect patterns in great volumes of data to interpret their meaning. Think of this as analytics on steroids.

Using data science can help AI-powered software to process data faster, extract knowledge, and point at useful insights from plenty of sources of data, helping you figure out solutions to problems by linking similar data.

These are some ways artificial intelligence can help you:

    • Predict what a customer is likely to buy
    • Identify credit fraud and detect faulty claims
    • Analyze warranty data to identify safety or quality problems in automobiles and manufactured goods
  • Automate personalized targeting of ads  

The insights data science provides are different to those available from traditional analytics. In fact, data science empowers software. Data science gives you the tools to extract more data-intensive, detailed models to make predictions.

Just make sure it really fits your workflow. Don’t implement AI just because it’s hip. Assess your business’ needs and take the best decision for your company.